South Carolina to station extra troopers during eclipse

COLUMBIA, SC (WBTW / AP) — South Carolina officials plan to station 160 extra troopers on a major highway and nearby roads during this month’s solar eclipse.

Cpl. Sonny Collins with highway patrol reports troopers will be concentrated along the Interstate 26 corridor from Aug. 18 to 21 to handle congestion and any other problems that may arise.

“We are expecting a lot of extra traffic, a lot of extra people on even the Grand Strand,” explains Cpl. Collins. “Where the interchanges are is where we would think the congestion would be, just like on a holiday weekend. So, I-95 at I-26 at I-20 in Columbia. Possibly in the Pee Dee I-95 around some of the Florence exists as people leave those hotels and other places.”

State Highway Patrol Maj. Rob Woods says the eclipse is expected to follow the highway’s 221-mile path from the Upstate to the Lowcountry.

Cpl. Collins says those who can avoid driving on Aug. 21 are encourages to do so. But if you have to be on the roads, Cpl. Collins warns against pulling off the side of the road to watch the eclipse.

“Pull over into a parking lot and do not stop on the shoulder of the road,” urges Cpl. Collins. “It’s illegal on some highways, so we want to make sure that we get you in a parking lot. If you’re driving, do not look up at the eclipse because the sun will cause temporary blindness and you’re operating a vehicle so that’s not a good scenario.”

Most hotels don’t have guests booking a second night, says Cpl. Collins. Which means traffic will be the worst Monday evening following the eclipse when everyone is leaving.

“We have an advantage with the eclipse,” describes Cpl. Collins. “If it’s a weather event coming in, you never know quite what’s going to happen. With the eclipse, we know exactly what day, what time. We just have to make sure we plan ahead and we’re prepared.”

State Department of Transportation’s Director Tom Johnson says repairs on major roads will cease Aug. 19 to 22.